Posted on 24 February 2012.
Gas prices continue to rise. According to AAA, today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.65. In New York City, the average is even higher – closing in on nearly five dollars. Fuel prices like these affect everything New Yorkers buy. Even people who don’t drive are feeling the pinch.
BY JACQUELINE GUZMAN
Today, the most expensive gallon of gas in Manhattan is available at this Mobil station at 96th Street and West End Avenue: $4.39 for regular unleaded, $4.59 for Super. Even so, cars were lined up this morning at the tarp-covered pumps to fill their tanks for the weekend. The price isn’t scaring customers.
“Quite honestly, I don’t care about myself so much as a consumer,” said Henry Stolzman, an architect and Upper West Side resident. “I care about what it does to the economy in general and to people who can’t afford it.”
Stolzman agrees with President Barack Obama’s new energy strategy, which he pitched at a conference in Florida yesterday. The president called on
engineers to come up with new sources of renewable energy. Obama says he knows it’s not going to happen overnight.
“There is no silver bullet. There never has been,” Obama said at the conference. “Part of the problem is when politicians pretend that there is, then we put off making the tough choices to develop new energy sources and become more energy efficient.”
Until that happens, gas prices aren’t going down. Here in New York, some businesses have had to get creative to save money on fuel. Jay Casiano is a manager at Plant Shed – a floral shop on the Upper West Side. He says that in the last 6 months, they’ve had to cut back on gas by hiring an independent delivery service for their bouquets.
“For Valentine’s Day, we made 2,100 deliveries,” Casiano said, and of those, “only about 400 were done by our company.” With this change, Casiano doesn’t have to charge an extra delivery fee to customers. But if gas gets to $6 a gallon, he’ll have to think of a new plan. He keeps his eye on prices every day.
“It’s part of our business, we need to know what’s happening in the economy — what’s changing, in order for us to keep our business going,” Casiano said. “That’s the only way we’re going to survive.
But it may not be the only way.
“You kind of want the price of gas to go up in order to stimulate the development of those alternatives,” explains Ken Slaysman, an economist who teaches at York College of Pennsylvania and specializes in fuel costs.
“I don’t think there’s a ceiling toward which the price could move. Certainly there are barriers; they tend to be those big things, like right now. Once in hits $4 people get serious.” By serious, he means people start demanding and buying different kinds of cars, moving closer to work or even changing jobs. But he says people will have to keep paying these high gas prices to get to this breaking point.